Wills probably do more than you expected. For example:

  • They let you designate who will inherit which of your assets.
  • They let you name a guardian for your children and an executor of your estate. (The executor can be either an individual you know or a trust company.)
  • They let you specify when your children will receive what. Otherwise, an 18-year-old may receive his entire inheritance before he's mature enough to keep from spending it all on stereos and cars.
  • They let you save money by waiving the probate bond, which may otherwise be required.
  • They can let you authorize the sale of some of your assets during probate administration. This can be important, because sometimes such a sale is necessary to raise money needed to pay taxes and expenses related to death.
  • They can permit your business to continue operating.
  • They can save you some money in taxes.

Even though planning for your death is a dreary topic, you should still take the time to explore it fully. Learn more about funerals and funeral planning here, and from outside resources like the Funeral Consumers Alliance, Profits of Death, and the long but informative Funerals and Ripoffs.

For lots of tips on how to get your life in order, financially and otherwise, including how to lop off several hundred dollars from your monthly or yearly expenses, try out our personal finance newsletter, Motley Fool Green Light. It's full of personal finance guidance and practical advice, and it should more than pay for itself in short order.